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Dr. Jack-O-Lantern, by Richard Yates Essay

Struggle for acceptance in the coming of age story, Dr. Jack-O-Lantern, by Richard Yates the main character Vincent Sabella faces struggles that force him to become a rebellious adolescent. Yates depiction of Vincent represents the maturation process of a ten year old orphan boy who grew up in New York and moved to a new city, enrolled in a new school, and had to make new friends. Vincent can be described as a quiet child with poor hygiene who became lonely and rebellious after moving to his new school.

Coming from an orphanage, Vincent wasnt able to have someone around him that made sure his hygiene was taken care of. When Vincent arrived at his new school, his school mates made fun of him because he made an unintelligible croak and smiled fleetingly, just enough to show that the roots of his teeth were green (Yates). Not only were his teeth green, the clothes he went to school with were absurdly new corduroys, absurdly old sneakers and a yellow sweatshirt, much too small, with the shredded remains of a Mickey Mouse design stamped on its chest (Yates). The ridicule that Vincent had to face from his classmates made him a very lonely and depressed child.

Along with having bad hygiene, Vincent became lonely and depressed.

His first day at his new school he stayed on the apron of the playground, close to school, and for the first part of the recess he pretended to be very busy with the laces of his sneakers (Yates). None of Vincents school mates wanted to play with him. During class, Vincent gave a report to his class about his weekend. He made up a story about getting chased by the police on Saturday and his classmates began to catch on to his exaggeration. Recess was worse than usual for him that day; at least it was until he found a place to hide — a narrow concrete alley, blind except for several closed fire-exit doors, that cut between two sections of the school building (Yates). Because nobody was around, Vincent felt like his new hiding spot was safe so none of his class mates could make fun of him.

Vincent began to feel like he was an out-cast at his new school and started to become a rebel in the making. At ten years old, Vincent already knew every vulgar word in the book. Standing in his newly found hiding spot in the alley, he just stood there, looking at the blankness of the concrete wall; then he found a piece of chalk in his pocket and wrote out all the dirty words he could think of, in block letters a foot high (Yates). Because Vincent was treated as a loner in his new city, writing on walls was a way for him to release his anger created by his struggle.

After having to clean the chalk off the wall, he went back to his alley and drew a picture of a naked woman and titled it Miss Price.Vincents struggles throughout the story caused him to grow into a rebellious adolescent with no responsibility. We can conclude that the author is trying to illustrate Vincents maturation process as a struggle for approval. Vincents quiet demeanor quickly turned into him becoming a disobedient child who longed for the acceptance of his new surroundings.


Short-storyRichard Yates, “Dr. Jack-O-Lantern”

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